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Archive for April, 2015

This & That

April 24th, 2015 at 08:24 pm

**Reading Laura's posts keep reminding me I have to update on my flakey sister. She was supposed to be visiting here about NOW. Maybe in May. About 4 weeks ago I asked my mom what was up with that and she said she didn't think they were coming. But you know, they never really bothered to mention that they were not coming. It's only because I asked that my mom pushed her some more and she said they couldn't get the time off or whatever.

There could be more to that story, but lord knows.

I am bummed about them deciding not to visit and not bothering to fill us in. On the flip side, I am also emotionally relieved. Maybe for the best.

**Yesterday I received food karma. Literal food karma. We had lunch brought in to work and when I expressed interest in some of the leftovers everyone decided I should take it ALL home. This seems the reverse of the beginning of the month when I kept giving away food. (It's a crazy amount of food!!)

**I think we are all going to visit the Doctor this month, or next. I tweaked my knee and I have been totally ignoring it. I think it could just be an extension of problems I already have and maybe not much I can do, but I should get it checked out. Probably next month when things settle down a bit more at work.

Dh is probably fine. He's just a little hypochondriac-y after our recent tumor experiences. He is considering further testing because of that experience. I was feeling kind of "meh" on that, but it was because it did not sound pleasant. When he told me why he was considering it though, I totally understand. He is thinking about it. For now, he has a clean bill of health.

Dh e-mailed BM's doctor about some skin stuff that wasn't clearing up. Was just recommended OTC medicine for that (one we already have).

Out of nowhere, we realized that LM is having some vision problems. He just said something like, "You guys can read that?" & when we probed him further he mentioned he was having trouble seeing the blackboard in class, etc.

He is such a weird kid. He is 10 and he is SO EXCITED to get glasses. He is currently in a very bummed state because he has to wait 10 days to get them. (Don't ask me! Hopefully it's not a huge letdown).

All that, and the cat is due for a vet visit!

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Well, I am glad LF asked about my dress purchases because I didn't think anyone would care at all. Ha!

It's funny, because I see so little retail or advertising in my little bubble that sometimes SA gives me more ideas to SPEND money than anywhere else. Isn't that funny? I apologize if I encouraged anyone to spend money. Wink

I got dress #2 and it is even better and nicer in person. LOVE!!

I received two new swimsuits and one is a very different style and print from what I already have but was a wee bit tight. I will try the next size up but worry it will be too loose in some places. Will see! It would be nice to mix things up a bit. The other one was a lot like my one owned swimsuit and I decided to just return it since I am returning the other. (Do I really need two nearly identical swimsuits?)

Anyway, if I am re-ordering the one suit then I will peruse the dresses some more. I never thought to buy dresses from that site but the advertising on the site did catch my eye. I suppose I will peruse their other clothes too.

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This weekend I have to work a bit and otherwise should be a chore weekend. It will be another couple of weeks before I can REALLY relax. I am taking a 3-day weekend for Mothers Day.

I have some financial updates to do later...

Doings

April 17th, 2015 at 06:17 am

**I received my annual OT check yesterday. My plan was to put 20% of it to investments and $3,100 to the mortgage.

I have about just enough to do that. BUT... Hoarding cash and allocating later seems to work best for us. We also received word that we might know in October if LM needs surgery for impacted tooth. October is also our Hawaii trip. So I think we will at least hold on to the cash until that point. I've also got a lot of expenses coming up in May.

I've already paid for the Japan trip, with my regular check, so will just deposit all this to savings.

I mostly expect to follow through with original plan by 12/31. Just maybe not if LM needs an expensive procedure!

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**We bought dh's mom some thank you flowers. Mostly she just gets annoyed at those kind of gestures but I think we nailed it this time. Dh had no clue what kind of flowers she would like but we apparently picked her favorite! So glad that worked out. She sent me a picture and they were gorgeous. Money well spent. (Was a, "thanks for watching my kid for 10 days," and otherwise helping with that trip).

**Dh bought a new kindle. With $200 credit card reward.

**I bought two $20 Amazon gift cards and already received $40 back from our AmEx card. (Per my last post).

I ended up just going ahead and ordering placemats. (I had bought a set of 4 and liked them, and had been wanting to order 4-8 more. To go with our new table cloth). In the end, it cost me $8 cash to buy 8 more place mats.

Dh wants to use his $20 to get the ads off the kindle but feels like it's kind of a waste. The timing couldn't be more perfect for that since he had his Kindle for a day or two, felt annoyed with the ads, and then a free $20 fell out of the sky to cover that.

**I ordered a couple of dresses and swim suits for Hawaii. I figured I might return a couple. But dress #1 came yesterday and was *perfect*. Will see how much I keep and return but is my little splurge. Gearing up for *my* big trip this year...

**We will eat well this weekend. Today dh is taking me out to lunch. It's the first lunch date we could arrange post Japan trip, but will also celebrate the end of tax season. Going to my favorite Thai restaurant.

Since my phone stopped ringing off the hook, and apparently everyone thinks I am on vacation, I am thinking of taking this weekend entirely off. I can cram next weekend if need be. It's probably how it always goes. I am stressed and worried how it will all get done... Then I have a quiet day or two at work and it all seems easy peasy. It's amazing what you can get done without a million interruptions!

**This weekend is the kids' school International Festival. It is DIVINE. Homemade meals from around the world. So yeah, we will eat well today and tomorrow.

Credit Card Reward Deal

April 15th, 2015 at 12:57 pm

See link for $20 Amazon offer, if you have an American Express card:

http://www.creditcardwatcher.com/amex-offers-get-20-off-20-a...

We were able to redeem $40 because we have two logins for the same American Express card. Woohoo!

Phew!

April 14th, 2015 at 06:43 am

Tax season has been weird. Kind of slower and more relaxing than usual BUT kind of backed up towards the end. I just finished my dad's and Gma-in-law's tax returns this weekend. Which is crazy late. I am usually mostly done with tax stuff by now. It's the other April and May deadlines that are weighing on me now, since I am now officially *way* behind on those.
I won't get any time off until mid-May. Then the rest of the year just feels like a vacation.

Thankfully, dh and the kids were gone for 10 days. I needed the time to just work work work without distraction. They have no idea how crazy it got! But was easier to deal with without having a family to worry about. I am also usually way more burned out by this point of the year but just am not at all yet. I can deal with a few weeks of "extra crazy" if it doesn't drag on for a long time. So that is the plus.

The fam's trip went VERY well. Last time BM left the country, we had a crazy Murphy week. (I have NO IDEA how I could have ever dealt with anything like that alone, during such a busy time at work, and was a fear I had). I also dreaded dealing with my MIL, who watched LM while the rest of the fam went off to Japan. Except for some drama up front, she was on good behavior. Phew! Of course, I thought LM would be more homesick too, or that MIL would drive him crazy (as she does to people) but he was fine. I didn't know if LM would have the patience for her. & I thought he might be more homesick regardless. But for whatever reason he was in an exceptionally mature mood that week.

I am so relieved that everything went SO smooth.

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The total expense for the Japan trip came out to about $2,900 for dh. We were expecting $3,000. So I am happy with that.

My dad did pay for my son's airfare, but he ended up going 50/50 on the food and hotel and having me pay for all of BM's transportation and so on. I don't know if he just expected me to pay $3k towards the trip or what but I am NOT going to argue about it. Just relieved to only pay $2,900 for a trip that I Was budgeting $6,000 for!! (Have been expecting to just pay $3,000 since my parents offered to pay for my son. All around, is less than I had planned to spend. Woohoo!).

& thanks to technology, we had no costs for communication. When my dad took me to Japan it was mostly paid for BUT I remember spending like $100+ just to call dh and the kids. That was a while ago!

Of course, my dad got some exceptional pictures and BM had a blast. They were able to be there at the peak time for cherry blossoms, which was the primary purpose of the trip for my dad.

It's nice when things go so smooth!

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At home I did not spend much money *at all* so I am hoping to offset some trip costs with some low spending this month.

Mostly gas because dropped off the family in the Bay Area and then went down over the weekend to rescue LM. (They got a ride back home from family).

Of course, the sad part of this story is we had contributed $100 to a Robo Games kickstarter, in exchange for 4 tickets. The annual robot wars are usually later in April and so of course for this year they made it BEFORE April 15th and in the middle of this Japan trip. Frown

I had planned to stop by the games on my way home Sunday night, which is the best time to be there anyway. Is when they do the epic big battles with the heavy weight robots. But anyway, I was going to meet my friend there and hang out at least a couple of hours. But by the time I got out of MIL's house, only then my friend tells me they have to leave at 5:00 or whatever because it's a school night. Don't get me wrong, I Would have gone anyway, but I was SO exhausted I decided to just go straight home. Maybe for the best. But so SAD that we all missed it. I did give our tickets to my friend, so glad someone could use them.

Next Year...

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Oh yes, but as to our spending for the month, it's kind of absurdly low:

I've got a $25 credit on my Target card because I had some returns.

--$73 spent on gas (LOTS of driving, but only drove the gas sipper. Also have enough gas for this week).

--$40 eating out - MOST of this was when I was in San Jose last weekend. MIL and my mom had no food so we just ate out. But MIL had a party Sunday and I ate too well that day.

I had otherwise planned to eat out a couple of times with the family gone but didn't end up doing so. You can say what you want when I have my personal chef/domestic helper doing all that stuff but when entirely alone, during a very busy time at work, my default was to eat in. IT's what I am used to and has become my habit. It just seemed easier to stop by the grocery store on the way home than to go out to eat or to even go through a drive-thru. I share because I know we are creatures of habit. But since I am not in the habit of grocery shopping or cooking, I Was surprised how much that was my default. I am in the habit of eating very well at home. I am not in the habit of eating out. So I guess that is what it came down to.

Groceries: $60 (I definitely splurged because it was just me)

& that takes us through the first 10 days or so of the month. 1/3 of the month...

I don't know that I see much spending the rest of the month, though obviously the food will go up a few notches with the family back.

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Oh yeah, and I fed everyone and their brother while dh and the kids were gone. Dh had picked up a few groceries for me. (Not much, because I mostly planned to buy fresh ingredients). But, anyway, he told me he left a "few leftovers" and we discussed several meals I could probably do in my sleep and would just keep it simple while they were gone.

SO... I already had some food at work the first day and made the mistake of stocking up at the grocery store that night, on the way home. IT wasn't until the next morning that I took stock of leftovers, when grabbing some for lunch.

**O.M.G.**

So yeah, the next day I started "Operation Feed Everyone."

Dh doesn't get it. I swear I had manicotti every single day for lunch for like 6 days. Took one serving to my mom. I still had some left for dh when he came back.

My co-worker took a whole pot of stew and 2 servings of pizza.

I froze a serving of stew for my mom and a whole chicken meal (for 10?) for LM and MIL. Took those down over the weekend. Also had one serving of chili which I gave to my mom.

Before I realized all this I had cooked a pot of spaghetti and bought high quality deli meat and bread for the week. Gave some of that to my mom, who does not cook and was home alone too.

I did cook a couple of meals during the week (had more leftovers for lunches) and made a batch of burrito and spaghetti the couple of nights before the boys came home so they'd have some food while they recovered from jet lag.

I am just relieved that none of it seemed to go to waste. It is amazing how fast that food goes with dh and the kids here! I just laugh that dh thought I would eat ALL That AND cook 3 or 4 meals. HA!

March Savings & Doings

April 6th, 2015 at 08:12 pm

Received $45 bank interest for the month of March.

Redeemed $50 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card. Deposited this snowflake into investments.

Redeemed $42 cash back on Citi card. Deposited this snowflake into investments.

Savings (From paycheck):

+$200 to investments
+$300 to cash**
+$900 to IRAs

**I did pull out $1,100 cash for Japan airfare.

Short-Term Savings (for non-monthly expenses within the year):

+$1,300 to cash
-$500 for life insurance

Short-term savings is robust right now (you might have noticed way more + than - in recent months) but that is mostly because we prepaid property taxes in December. Which leaves an extra $2,500 cash buffer or so since we've already saved up the next property tax installment (which isn't due until December).

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Doings:

**Life has been busy. Mostly work.

**I did finally sign up for that credit card reward. $200 cash back + free prime for one year. Should get the rewards soon.

**Mid-month I get my OT check for the year. I will also have to sort out overseas trip expenses with my dad. OT should be way more than expenses. So I am mostly just looking forward to sorting all that out. Then we can see where we are at financially and look ahead.

**The funny thing about "more money" is more choices and stress. That's the mode I am in right now. A lot of stuff is popping up on the horizon now that we have some extra money. I think it's just a matter of time -we need to think through and prioritize. But for the moment I am feeling very overwhelmed. Some of it I haven't talked over with dh yet and I know it will be better once we sit down and talk it all out. (Who knows - he may outright veto me. That would make it easy).

Our "year of splurge" is definitely over when it comes to the frivolous, but there is still a lot of less frivolous stuff to sort out. Home improvements and medical stuff.

With the extreme drought situation here we may have the opportunity to redo our front yard landscaping. (Both city and HOA approval, perhaps. Both have been very picky with the unnatural lush green lawns). We can do the back whenever but it's been more of a dream more than a priority. Talking about being able to do the front yard too and having some extra money is suddenly bumping that up to the top of our priorities. Maybe the theme for us this year is "conservation". I really want to dump the gas guzzler too.

(We've wanted a more appropriate yard, for our climate, for ages. It's just not something we really thought through before we bought our house. We didn't really know the local climate either. Since living here for a time, it's always bothered me what a water wasting city this is compared to our last city. & we met a few people who had more appropriate landscaping so kind of put it in the back of our heads that is what we really wanted. It was just I had never heard of the idea before, I guess. When we did start seeing other kinds of yards we had no money).

Anyway, I went for a walk in parents' way more water conservative (though less dry) city over the weekend and saw a lot of ripped out lawns. I am going to broach the subject with dh. At the least let's kill the backyard lawn. Why have we not done that yet??? That part is a frugal (free) step. The problem is that I perused the websites/portfolios of a few recommended landscapers. So now I am dreaming of a fancy hardscape kind of backyard. Big Grin I am sure everything I was drooling over was expensive.

Of course, maybe I should dream away. We are probably at a point where we could be rid of our gardeners. I'd love to keep them on but the most of what they do is mowing lawns. I don't know that they'd still help us with our meager yard work if we have no lawns. It is something to consider though. If we go REALLY low maintenance we would save $1,000 per year on help. Maybe this is sounding more sensible. Well, if I have to talk to dh about it and get some quotes. Our neighbors are kind of ritzy so I don't think I was looking at reasonable landscapers. (Neighborhood recommendations). It will be a little more work to seek out a deal. But, we won't know until we start getting quotes and doing more homework.

I think that is a lot of my being overwhelmed. I personally tend to estimate things high and plan for the worst. Which is good financially but maybe unnecessary stress at times. Right now I just have a lot of question marks.